By Laura Lennie, News Staff
Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School’s Brent Mio, Divine Kahindo, Kaitlyn Kersley, Larissa Schular, Madelyn Cryer, Megan Kelly and Micaela Caruso have garnered $5,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada Hamilton Chapter.
The Grade 9 religious education students scored the money for the charity on Tuesday, as part of the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI).
The YPI – a program created by the Toskan Casale Foundation – sees students identify a local grassroots charity in need. The students research and visit the charity to better learn how it serves the community and then present a pitch to a panel of judges explaining why the organization merits support. The winning group’s charity receives $5,000 from the foundation.
Mio, Kahindo, Kersley, Schular, Cryer, Kelly and Caruso were among four groups of seven students competing for the money. Other charities included Liberty for Youth, McMaster Children’s Hospital and Schizophrenia Society of Ontario.
The winning group agreed it felt good to see all of their efforts pay off for such a great cause.
“My mom was diagnosed with MS in her mid-20s, so this is close to my heart,” Cryer said. “They’re so close to finding a cure and I think that $5,000 is just one step closer. The MS Society’s motto is, Every Step Counts, and this is our step towards getting closer to a cure.”
Charlie Agro, head of the religious education department, said the students became involved with the YPI about two months ago.
Groups spent countless hours working on their own and with their charities in preparation for their presentations, he added.
“I applied (to the YPI) as an interest to enhance and compliment Catholic social teachings of the church and thought a connection to charity work and research would be best for complimenting student achievement,” Agro said. “My hope is that students involved in each group have gained a deeper understanding of local charities and the need to help. Their time and research is testimony to deepening our gospel values for their chosen charities.”
Principal Hermon Mayers, who was on the panel of judges that included six representatives from the school and community, said all of the students were “well prepared” and “terrific.”
“They all did a great job. You could tell that they were engaged by the topic, that they had done research and that they were advocating very passionately for what they believed in,” he said. “These are very young students, so for them to get up and do that and have that sort of ability and that presence in a room full of people, I thought it was tremendous. I’m very proud of them.”
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada provides services to people with multiple sclerosis and their families and funds research to find the cause and cure for this disease.
Kaitlyn Kinsella, fundraising coordinator for the Hamilton Chapter, said the students did a “fantastic job” promoting the organization.
The $5,000 will be going toward the chapter’s client services program, which supports those who are living with MS and their families, she added.
“When I was meeting with the group, I could really see their passion for the organization coming through. I’m just very, very impressed,” Kinsella said. “All of the students did such a phenomenal job. I was blown away by the quality of the presentations and just hope that they’ll continue their work with charities going forward after this.”
For more information on the YPI and how to help a local charity in need, visit www.goypi.org.